Templore Campaign Setting
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.” — Rumanwe Erada, elven philosopher
Solemn and thoughtful, elves live in majestic cities wrought from the very fabric of nature. They have a masterful grasp of magic and tend to shun material technology in favor of their unseen power. Their timeless livelihood and reclusive nature causes most to be dour and introspective, and these attitudes have been tempered further by the rise of humanity and the destruction of many of their ancient homelands.
“The grass which bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” — Common elven proverb
Typically, an elf has a lifespan of 900-1,000 years. An average elf stand about six feet tall, though this varies to anywhere from four feet to eight feet in some regions. Elves tend to weigh slightly less than an average human for their size.
Elves are perhaps the most physically varied of the common races. They spread to many corners of Urth long before most others, and have come to adapt rather well to all kinds of environments. Their appearances subtly change over time to match their surroundings and mental states. In warmer climes, their long ears grow larger still to radiate heat, and their skin may darken from prolonged exposure to sunlight. Arctic-dwelling elves grow taller, paler, and hardier than their cousins, and males are known to grow beards (a quality highly unusual in all but the oldest of other elvish ethnicity). Elves from forested areas do not grow as tall as their cousins, though their arms and legs grow proportionally longer. Elves that live near coasts or large bodies of water sometimes have webbed hands and feet. All elves do have some basic features in common; their pointed ears, almond-shaped eyes and narrow noses, which are sophisticated sensory organs, almost as sensitive as an animal’s.
All elves have a unique metabolism that allows them to subsist on surprisingly little food, and their bodies do not store fat as readily as other races. They digest sugars, such as those found in fruits and berries, particularly well, and it is no surprise that sweets are common in elven dishes. Conversely, meat is somewhat difficult for elves to digest, so some avoid it altogether. Dairy and baked goods are a staple of elven diets in addition to vegetables, greens and nuts. Elven cooking is a very simple, rustic affair, with many foods eaten raw or lightly seasoned. Alcohol made by elves is often in the form of wine, rum, or honeyed mead. Elven spirits are flavorful, though often of weak potency. Certain varieties of elven spirits are fermented with special herbs and treated with magic. Sometimes called dream wine, these drinks impart deep emotional experiences unto those who imbibe them.
Due to their fey heritage, elves are often seen as hauntingly beautiful, particularly to humans, who find their appearance unsettling even as they are drawn to them.
“The flower goes back to its root.” — Common elven proverb
According to the elves, they were one of the earliest races of beings to spread to the far corners of Urth. This was the result of a mass exodus from The Reverie, the unseen mystical world that exists alongside the material world. The reason for this departure is unknown to all but the elves, and is a closely guarded secret even now.
It is said they tended the world when it was young, and helped it grow. The elves fought back many of the darker beings that inhabited Urth when they arrived, and staved off invasions of other beings from The Reverie. Rather than taming the abundant, wild nature around them, the elves chose to live harmoniously with it. Possessing inherent magical abilities, they weaved spells into the land, creating an intimate bond with Urth itself. Though the elves possessed no understanding of time, they soon discovered that mortality was a very real threat in this new world, and in establishing ties with nature, they sought to preserve their lifespans for as long as possible. By living so close to the land, they ensured that their physical bodies would endure as long as the mountains, trees, and rivers of their new home.
The elves created many small states throughout Templore and beyond, and flourished unchallenged for centuries. When the Cathartans moved north with intentions of seizing their land, however, that all changed. The ensuing wars saw the elves driven into the far reaches of their homelands, or forced to live under Cathartan rule. When the empire began its slow decline, some of the elves began throwing off the bonds of human occupation and reclaiming their lands. While the number of elven settlements today is a mere fraction of those that once existed, there is a growing rebellious sentiment taking hold in the newer generations of elves to claim salvation from the human population and the destruction they are causing to the natural world. These young elves believe it is their duty to crusade against humanity, as they once did against the dark and vile monsters inhabiting Templore millenia ago.
“There is no king in the realm of death.” — Rumanwe Erada, elven philosopher
Templorean elven society is primarily structured around thought, expression, beauty and art. Elves cherish individuality and freedom above all else. An elf is never born into his role in life, he is free to explore whatever path he thinks best for himself.
Marriage, the lifelong binding of two individuals, is not a convention of elven society. Elves do not believe that love of any kind is meant to be reserved for certain people or situations, and a marriage, even between two willing people, is seen as counter-intuitive to that freedom. Instead, elves have a ritual which joins two individuals together, but is meant to be purely temporary, lasting about 100 years. The ritual links two individuals in such a way that they can communicate emotions almost telepathically, and is said to heighten the connection between two people immensely, making the joys of sex and sensuality a truly marvelous thing. This bond can be broken if both participants are willing.
Sexual gender and identity has very little social importance. Elves are so long-lived that low population is not as pressing of a threat as it is to other races, and it is not uncommon for an elf to live his or her entire life without bearing a child. Thus, an elf is free to choose his or her romantic partners without the stigma of gender involved.
Romantic partnerships are playful, joyful endeavors. Elves are typically polyamourous, and most older elves, both male and female, have harems of lovers. Relationships may last anywhere from a single day to entire centuries, and if they end, partners strive to leave respectful of one another and content with the time they shared.
Elven government varies greatly by region. Some nations are monarchic, some theocratic, some mageocratic, and yet still others exist. Elven civilization is somewhat of a contradiction. While elves have developed radically different cultures, these have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. Their unusually long lifespans allow the same individuals to remain in power for centuries. Elves tend to become so ingrained in the stagnation of their cultures that they often outdo even dwarves when clinging to their oldest traditions.
Matters of war are uncommon in elven lands, but certainly not unheard of. Disputes between elven societies are almost always settled with negotiation before combat occurs, but elves are quick to clash with other races who pose a threat to them or the world which they protect. The elves rarely involve themselves with the political affairs of other races, and are slow to act when coming to their aid.
“Hell and Heaven are in the hearts of men.” —Irinor Aladwe, elven shaman
Elves do not adhere to a religion; that is to say, they have no dogmatic practices or organized beliefs. They do not seek to promote worship or gain the favor of gods. Rather, they pay homage to many great spirits, ancient beings from the realm of the fey. These spirits are thought to guard and maintain the various aspects of nature and the wilderness. They cause the seasons to turn and the weather to sway. The elves do not deign to ask for bountiful harvests or milder winters, for to do so would insult the will of the spirits. They leave offerings of milk, honey or wine as tribute for the guardians, for without them, the world would be cast into utter chaos. They do not deify any beings or allow religion to dictate their behavior. They merely observe the natural order and pay utmost respect to it.
Within nature there must be balance, and alongside the benevolent spirits there must also exist malevolent ones. These spirits are known as demons, and depending on the severity of their evil can cause simple mischief or bring great destruction and disaster.
Elves erect shrines and temples in sacred places where spirits are thought to dwell. Shamans tend these temples, giving offerings to the spirits and meditating on the nature of existence. These shamans are also known to travel abroad, using their knowledge and magical powers to balance the good and evil energies of the world.
It is a terrible irony that elves, the longest lived of all of the civilized races, have nothing to look forward to after death. According to their beliefs, they do not possess souls as other mortals do. Upon death, they merely cease to be. For them, there are only two ways to continue on beyond their natural age: undeath, or receiving the calling.
The calling is a mysterious phenomenon that occurs only once or twice an elven generation. There is no sign or symptom to signal the calling; when an elf receives it, he or she instinctively knows. Upon receiving the calling, the elf embarks on a journey to a place only he knows of. This is a place where the veil between the world of mortals and the world of the fey is thinnest. The elf then steps through and is gone for an indeterminate amount of time; sometimes mere days, sometimes years. Some never return. When and if they reemerge, they are changed forever. Few can even recall their experiences in the other realm, and those that do swear by a vow of secrecy. After undergoing the calling, an elf is effectively immune to the ravages of age, and is capable of living well beyond their average lifespan. They find they have been granted strange powers and magical abilities not known to others of their race. An elf who returns from the calling almost always becomes a great leader or hero of their people.
It is commonly accepted that the concept of undeath originated from elves, as did the curse of vampirism. Elves were the first to discover the dark ritual of lichdom, which some elven kings undergo. While many of these ancient undead were slain at the hands of the Cathartans with their “divine” magics, a small number still remain.
“The heart of the person before you is as the surface of a lake; see there your own form.” —Common elven proverb
The elves, while differing heavily in culture from the dwarves, often find they still have much in common, the two being very slow to change and having great respect for aesthetic artwork and timeless craftsmanship. They get along well with gnomes as the two share a love for magic and nature, although more than one gnome prank have disrupted the calm of elven society and caused spats between them. When humans first rose to prominence centuries ago, the marauding hordes of early men laid waste to many elven settlements, and while most men have long since forgotten these times, some of the elves alive today still remember running from the bloody edge of a human sword. This is the cause of much distrust and even hatred towards humans.
Elven adventurers are an uncommon sight, but they certainly exist. Among their numbers, rangers, shamans and wizards are the most common. Strictly martial individuals are rare due to their frail physiology, but an elf fighter lithely cleaving the limbs from his foes or slinging volleys of arrows on the battlefield is a sight to behold. Elven rogues are often outcasts from their societies who have taken up theft and dirty fighting to get by. Elven monks are not unheard of, as they have as much time and patience as one would need to master the delicate martial arts and deep meditation the path requires.
As Pathfinder core, plus ability to cast detect magic at will, and Alien Spirit.
Alien Spirit: An elf cannot be raised from the dead through any means, magical or otherwise. Any magical effects which would normally result in bringing a dead creature back to life automatically fails when cast on an elf. An elf’s spirit cannot be communicated with after death.